The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS -

fully be in that po­si­tion this year,” Harper was say­ing the other night, af­ter slug­ging two home runs in a crit­i­cal vic­tory in Wash­ing­ton. “That would so­lid­ify us in many dif­fer­ent ways, of get­ting there and get­ting there of­ten, not just one year but in mul­ti­ple years.

“Hope­fully, it would help in get­ting free agents in here be­cause they know we are a post­sea­son team that they can come to and help us win.”

And there it was, tucked neatly into the end of a video in­ter­view, late at night, late in a sea­son: Harper’s chal­lenge to his team­mates and, more, to the front of­fice.

Though he didn’t say it, he didn’t com­mit to the Phillies be­cause he ex­pected Bran­don Work­man to be the closer. He didn’t buy into John Mid­dle­ton’s sales pitch be­cause he ex­pected the Phillies to trade for

J.T. Real­muto only as a twoyear rent-a-star on an ex­pir­ing con­tract. He didn’t ex­pect to play in an empty sta­dium, which this par­tic­u­lar year was nobody’s fault, but which can be­come a trend should the Phillies fin­ish un­der .500.

This is the moment that Harper en­vi­sioned, a week­end se­ries with a play­off spot on the line, and a shot to do some­thing in the post­sea­son … and be­yond.

“I think we’re a post­sea­son or­ga­ni­za­tion,” Harper said. “You saw it for a long pe­riod

of time, then didn’t see it for a long pe­riod of time.”

That’s how Mid­dle­ton sold the Phillies to Harper, that he was in a mood to spend what it took to win an­other nifty tro­phy, to restore his team to what it was from 2007 through 2011, to be an at­trac­tive, se­ri­ous, cham­pi­onshipob­sessed des­ti­na­tion for base­ball’s bright­est stars.

David Phelps would not be in that sub-set.

“So we need to get back there,” Harper said. “The abil­ity to sign free agents be­cause

we get there is why I came here.”

He couldn’t have been more clear about his mood had he taken bat­ting prac­tice in a Real­muto jersey. And, by the way, he did that, too. But he has been pro­fes­sional enough only to troll, not blame, the front of­fice. He has un­der­stood that it is up to the play­ers on staff to stam­pede through Tampa and earn a play­off spot, him­self in­cluded. That’s why he has been play­ing de­spite an achy back, tak­ing ev­ery ex­tra base, hit­ting home runs to all fields and spread­ing ex­pec­ta­tions around the club­house.

“I came here to win,” he said. “I came here to be suc­cess­ful as an or­ga­ni­za­tion. I came here to get the Philadel­phia Phillies back on Broad Street and to do the things we need to do to be suc­cess­ful for a long pe­riod of time. That’s what I want to do. That’s what the play­ers in that club­house want to do. But you’ve got to want it. You have to come in here ev­ery sin­gle day and want to win and want to bat­tle, no mat­ter how you feel.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.